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Old 06-04-2010   #1
victim
 
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Characters and improving storytelling

Something that I have noticed, not just in GTA, but in Rockstar Games in general, is the lack of compelling characters in their stories. All the main characters are weak minded, not the way they are written but in the most figurative sense possible.

I'm going to use GTA IV as my example to explain what I'm talking about.

Every character is going through some kind of downfall. Take a look at Faustin, a man struggling with his anger, or Elizabeta, a woman stuck in a man's world. In this sense, it seems like there are a tonne of mini-stories in one main story - the Irish family in the days of post-glory city rule compared to the Italian family on an unsteady rise.

I cannot think of one character in the game that I wanted to follow. There was not one character that I actually wanted to do missions for because it will benefit my character as a person. Niko was an outsider to all the people he worked for. Even his own cousin was just a dramatic knife to the story plot, used as a way to compell the character down a dark path. Why can't our main character ever make their own downfall?

Would Vice City Stories have even had any missions if it had not been for Lance? Victor Vance wanted to be good, just like Niko and even Carl. San Andreas would have been 1/3rd the size had Sweet not gone to jail.

I want a future main character that makes his (or hers) own downfall. Perhaps they choose to live a life of crime, which is a downfall in itself. Maybe they choose to follow some visionary of a gang leader, and need to do everything in their power to gain the respect of a person they idolize. There are so many possibilites. Take a look at the character of Dutch in Red Dead Redemption. A man who was once a visionary - a man with codes. Somebody that I would actually want to work for.

This makes so much more sense from a storytelling purpose. Niko didn't like his life of crime, he did it for the money. What would have made sense is Niko paying off Roman's debts slowly by working as a cab driver. What kind of game would that have been though?

Rockstar need to cut out the moralist overtones - they are melding stories of escaping a world that players actually want to play in.

The only promising part of GTA IV's story was the tracking down of Darko. Niko wanted to do everything in his power to find this man, and it was easily the most climatic moment when you come across the drug-riddled shell that Niko had given away his life for. That was drama, that was awesome.

Which brings me back again to my starting point; it seems every person had a problem, which is why we did missions for all these people, yet no reward comes at all. The Irish family and the Italian family that you both worked for, are at even lower points that they started at by the end of the game. No accomplishments were achieved.

I want my character to have a choice. When I say this, I do not mean the player, this isn't Fallout. Tommy had a choice on whether to take over Vice City; he did it because that's what he wanted.

Agree, disagree? I want to hear your comments.
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Old 06-04-2010   #2
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I honestly wanted to be Dimitri he is my absolute favorite character and he has his downfall in the end which i think sucked you got no option to join him even after you work with him.. and he was going to be one of the New key players in organized crime but he worked just like niko making more money as time progressed and he is a great business man and my idol. I loved playing tommy because he became a king pin of that time thats what i admired about Dimitri and his never ending sense of betraying everyone for his benefit
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Old 06-04-2010   #3
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Exactly! Since Vice City we've been playing as loyal characters. Since then it's been all about where the side characters take the main character, when it should be about where the main character takes the player.

Claude had no problem betraying Kenji in GTA III. Imagine something like that, in a far more emotional situation that has come with advancements in video game technology, etc.

Get rid of the moralist overtones and you'll be so much more likely to craft an amazing story. Not all characters need to do things that the audience agrees with and would do themselves in that situation.
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Old 06-04-2010   #4
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Hell yeah shit id be just like dimitri if your best friend is going to get you killed and is uncontrolable fuck it lol kill him take over and all the more wealth and perks to you lol but that would be a fantastic situation for their next game to be russian like Dimitri put in the position to kill your best friend or die and see how it drags out which go with moral and who just says fuck him ill take over for all the money and perks lol not to mention it would be intresting to have alot more choices that actually efect the game like how Dimitri partners with Bulgarin instead screwing niko for being a bottom feeder should have long term effects.
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Old 06-05-2010   #5
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I would just like to add that Rockstar have characters in their games that are 10 times more detailed than Marcus Fenix and Cole from Infamous... There is just so much more room for improvement, especially seeing as Rockstar focus so heavily on storytelling these days.

Come on Dan Houser, challenge the norms.
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Old 06-06-2010   #6
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I agree that since the GTA IV era pretty much every character is about to hit rock-bottom and needs the help of the protagonist. And in the end you get some money but that's it...The endings to Lost and Damned, GTA IV, and Ballad of Gay Tony are not rewarding at all. You go through all this crap to end up with nothing. The protagonists pretty much hit rock bottom as the rest of the characters in the game. In GTA IV the most anti-moralistic character would be Louise Lopez. But even then after completing the game you feel like his character hasn't really developed and the story does not feel complete.

I miss the GTA 3 era in which most characters did things to get to the top, and not just survive. The endings just felt rewarding. Tommy worked for people who really helped him advance, and made some friends along the way like Colonel Cortez, Avery Carrington, etc, and in the end took over the city. Claude did not care about anyone and anything except money and revenge, CJ worked with Wu Zi and owned most of San Andreas in the end. Tony Cipriani got promoted to capo in LCS. Hell even Vic's story in VCS didn't feel as depressing as GTA IV.

I liked the original idea of "climbing the criminal ladder" from the GTA 3 era instead of the "going from rags to better rags" theme in the GTA IV era.
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Old 06-06-2010   #7
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I disagree with you slightly. The characters don't need to rule the world by the end of the story. Just look at GTA III, Claude got his revenge; Niko got nothing.
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Old 06-09-2010   #8
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I tell you playing a character like Dimitri has room FOR MANY choices that can either lead to the downfall of your character or to be a Key player/Boss. That was one of the things i didnt like about GTA 4 the choices you make were lame and didnt matter at all not to mention the fact that their was like only 2 big ones and only one of them changes anything lol. Also the fact that you barely get any money out of the big missions like the bank job i mean Come on you dont rob a bank for 500k you rob it for atleast 1 mill. I really did love the bank job though it was one of my favorite missions and should be included in all future gta games. But starting with my plot that i told above would make for a great story but it would need ALOT more choices and for them to actually mean something.
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